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The top sports and outdoor gear of 2021

The past year and a half have taught us all how important it is to get outside and stay active—whether that means an easy hike or an epic day of mountain biking. The year’s top new gear makes those adventures better, safer, more comfortable, and more inclusive. We’ve chosen killer new shades for your next run, hiking pants designed to fit more bodies, and a helmet that will let you know when it (or you) have had one too many bad bumps. Plus, there’s even a kit made just to help your bathroom breaks in the woods leave less of a mark.

When Yeti Cycles set out to build its first electric mountain bike, the company needed to do better than just slapping a battery and motor to an existing ride. The race-driven brand wanted a cycle that would scream uphill and bomb downhill at record-setting speeds, but do it with the same feel of other analog Yetis. Having a motor on board increases the whip’s acceleration and tire torque, meaning the ride could lose traction and spin out when traversing gravel, rocks, and roots if the team didn’t correctly manage that extra power. To keep a grip, they designed an entirely new suspension platform, called the Sixfinity linkage, specifically tuned for mountain-climbing e-bikes. One essential piece lies in how the rear triangle of the frame moves with the back wheel; a unique joint under the seatpost dynamically adjusts the geometry of the frame as cyclists crank over obstacles. This, and a series of other suspension modifications, result in a carbon-fiber ride that, when pedaling and climbing, reacts to the trail without too much springiness or the tires losing their connection to the ground.

Put these new shades on your face, and you’ll instantly feel a bit like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. That’s because, instead of frames, the lenses on Oakley’s Kato sunglasses act as the frame themselves. The curved piece of polycarbonate has a lip at the top and a curvature for your nose, both of which lend it structure. Without a top or bottom frame, the wraparound specs give the wearer a sweeping, unencumbered field of view. Designed mainly for athletes like cyclists or runners, the sunglasses weigh just 34 grams, sitting in front of the face like a snug, sweeping visor.

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